Two things are true in this life: The first one is that we all need to sleep, and the second, that we don’t get enough of it. Luckily for everyone, the science of sleep is one of the most studied fields of human health, so the experts have come up with several effective tips to get those solid 8+ hours that some of us so desperately need but can’t seem to get at all for a number of reasons.
We’ve listed some of our favorites tips to sleep through the night in this blog, with a short explanation or step-by-step instructions for each one. Remember that the effects may vary from person to person, so not all of them will prove effective for everyone; and don’t be afraid to riff on them a little if you need to, it’s all about finding out what works best for you and keeping a healthy attitude about it. Perhaps all you need is a little bit more time to unwind during the day to sleep better, if someone took care of your chores.
1. Set an alarm… to sleep
Setting up alarms each night to wake up early the next day is a something that absolutely everyone dislikes, but it’s a sadly ubiquitous thing for pretty much everyone with responsibilities. Just the stress from having to do it can rob you of a couple of hours of sleep every night, but what if you did the opposite? Setting up an alarm to go to bed can help you create a healthy sleeping routine that your body will be very grateful for, and soon enough you’ll be getting sleepy and relaxed on your own when the hour gets close without the need to hear the alarm. It’s a complete reversal of everything that you hate about waking up early!
2. Increase your sunlight (or bright lights) exposure
Without getting too technical over it, we can tell you that your sleep cycle depends greatly on something called a “circadian rhythm,” which can be resumed as your internal clock of sorts; it helps your body stay awake during the day and tells it to sleep at night. Keeping it healthy is necessary if you want restful sleep, so get enough exposure to sunlight and bright lights in general during the day, while keeping your room dark during the night, to increase your sleep quality and duration. This is because the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle, melatonin, is affected by the amount of light you’re exposed to when falling asleep—with blue light (like the one from your smartphone screen) being its worst enemy.
3. Keep your daytime naps short
Short power naps are great to keep you going during a stressful couple of days but don’t use long naps as a regular sleep substitute. Not only will sleeping during the day confuse your internal clock, but studies have shown that naps longer than 30 minutes can negatively affect the length and quality of your sleep at night without offering its full benefits. That’s not to say that all long naps are bad for you since other studies have shown that people for taking daily naps of more than 30 minutes are not negatively affected, so only people who do it irregularly should worry. The effects of napping depend on a per-person basis, of course, but if you’re not used to doing it, try to avoid it.
4. Exercise regularly, but not before going to sleep
Exercise is one of the best ways to sleep better at night, so much that a study found out it offered more benefits to people with severe insomnia than most sleep-aid drugs do. It reduces the time needed to fall asleep, the quality and duration of your sleep, and your overall anxiety by a lot. The effects are noticeable for adults of all ages, but it shouldn’t be done too late in the day, as the increased awareness and the production of hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine can make falling asleep a little harder than usual. The effects vary, as with most of these, but if you have a hard time falling asleep when excited, avoid exercise late in the day.
5. Get a white noise machine for your bedroom
Both extremes of the noise scale can negatively affect how much sleep you can get at night. Too much noise means that your body won’t be completely relaxed, and the quality of your sleep will suffer, or that you’ll be waking up constantly. On the other hand, a completely silent room makes you more likely to pick up even the faintest of sounds, which can alert you and make you wake up for seemingly no reason. The best way to avoid both of these situations is to take any whirring electronics out of the room and get a white noise machine if your room is one of those “too quiet” cases.